The White House pulled a fast one today, revealing last minute that President Obama was in Afghanistan as part of an unannounced visit.The administration didn’t reveal details of the trip until he touched down in the country because of security concerns.
And while the visit took many by surprise, it isn’t the first time that a sitting president has made such a clandestine trip. In fact, Obama himself had a similar trip to the country in 2010.
From George W. Bush to Abraham Lincoln, there have been a number of presidents who knew how to keep their trips on the down low.
On Thanksgiving 2003, George W. Bush made an unexpected trip to Iraq to visit troops and share a turkey dinner. Details of the trip were kept secret at the time, so as to protect the president, but a National Geographic special later explained how the administration managed to pull it off.
A fake call sign, a late night flight, and press embargoes were just a few of the things that went into keeping that trip under wraps.
Source: The New York Times
Ronald Reagan gave fans at Memorial Stadium something to cheer about when he made a surprise visit to throw out the first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles' season opener. Reagan shocked everyone, including his staff, as he didn't make his decision until 90 minutes before game time. While an earlier plan to throw out the first pitch was scrapped due to security concerns, officials decided now that the element of surprise was in play, such concerns could be ruled out.
Wearing a bulletproof vest under his suit, Reagan threw a fastball that fell a little out of the strike zone.
Source: Associated Press
While the public expected Dwight Eisenhower would make a trip to the peninsula, as he promised to do so during his campaign, they didn't know when it would happen. On December 2, 1952, Eisenhower arrived in Korea and spent three days surveying troops there. To keep details of the visit hidden, the administration gave off the impression he was still in the country by making a number of cabinet appointments from the president's home.
Source: Presidents: A Reference History
Franklin Roosevelt was the first president to make an official trip on an aeroplane, flying to Casablanca to attend a strategy meeting with Winston Churchill during World War II. The trip was made completely in secret and took a total four days. Roosevelt left Florida and stopped in the Caribbean, Brazil, and Gambia before finally reaching Casablanca.
In 1862, Abraham Lincoln made an unexpected and rather mysterious visit to West Point to discuss military strategy with General Winfield Scott. It was during the height of the Civil War and the trip marked the furthest Lincoln would travel from the White House during the war.
The trip was so unexpected that Pennsylvania Republican Alexander K. McClure said at the time it 'startled the country and quite as much startled the Cabinet, as not a single member of it had any intimation of his intended journey.'
According to Lincoln chronicler Ralph Gary, the president traveled up the Hudson River via ferry to get to the base and then back down in a specially designed train.
Source: The Lincoln Institute
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